Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Erin Hafer
On a cold December morning, a team of volunteers filled a box truck with over 200 gift bags for D.C. teens. The gifts were provided by generous contributions to the 2018 Coast Guard Headquarters Holiday Adopt-a-Teen Gift Bag Drive. The charity drive was coordinated with the D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA), who distributed the gifts to boys and girls aged 12 to 18 throughout D.C.
The DCHA serves 50,000 qualified low-income residents through traditional affordable housing, tenant- and project-based housing vouchers, and mixed-income properties. The population that the DCHA serves includes 15,400 children. The gift bags the Coast Guard donated made the holidays of children in the Greenleaf, Barry Farm, and The Villager communities particularly bright.
Rear Adm. Anthony “Jack” Vogt, Assistant Commandant for Response and executive sponsor of the drive, was proud of the generosity and spirit of the drive.
“I am so proud that our Coast Guard community embraces the spirit of the holidays and giving to those less fortunate than ourselves,” said Vogt. “The generosity of our Coastguardsmen and civilians in supporting this drive speaks volumes of their heart and soul now during the holidays and throughout the year. I am continuously impressed by the actions of our own.”
The Gift Bag Drive focuses on teens, as older children are often overlooked during holiday generosity campaigns. This year’s drive included requested items in a “1-2-3” format – one gift card, two items valued at $5-10, and three items valued at $1-5. This model ensured gifts were of similar value. Headquarters personnel donated gift bags for teen boys and girls, filled with gift cards for local merchants, electronic items such as headphones and portable chargers, and small personal items, such as grooming and beauty gifts, hats, and gloves. Numerous individuals, offices, and teams, including those from the Coast Guard Officers Association, contributed donations for the drive. The final results were simply amazing – 210 gift bags, and over 40 people volunteering to pack, load, and deliver the gifts to the DCHA.
Ron Friday, Community Navigator with the DCHA, noted the relationship between the U.S. Coast Guard and the community.
“On behalf of our residents and DCHA, I’d like to say ‘A Very Special Thank you,’” said Friday. “The relationship between the U.S. Coast Guard, Chaplin [Jonathan] Alexander, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Erin Hafer has been a heartwarming experience to behold. Your many acts of generosity and kindness during this and other times of the year has made you more than community partners; you are our friends.”
Programs like the Holiday Adopt-a-Teen Gift Drive highlight the Coast Guard’s values of honor,
respect, and devotion to duty. We are an organization that cares for and serves people.
Once again, we demonstrated who we truly are and what matters most to us. Semper Paratus!